Users Online: 909 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size  
Home | About us | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Contacts | Login 

RSACP wishes to inform that it shall be discontinuing the dispatch of print copy of JOACP to it's Life members. The print copy of JOACP will be posted only to those life members who send us a written confirmation for continuation of print copy.
Kindly email your affirmation for print copies to [email protected] preferably by 30th June 2019.


Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 137-138

Perioperative metformin: Friend or foe

Department of Anaesthesiology, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Submission27-Oct-2017
Date of Acceptance31-Aug-2019
Date of Web Publication18-Feb-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Abhijit S Nair
Department of Anaesthesiology, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad - 500 034, Telangana
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/joacp.JOACP_305_17

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Nair AS. Perioperative metformin: Friend or foe. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol 2020;36:137-8

How to cite this URL:
Nair AS. Perioperative metformin: Friend or foe. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 27];36:137-8. Available from:


Metformin is an oral biguanide hypoglycemic drug used as first line drug in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It acts by non-pancreatic mechanisms without secreting insulin, sensitises insulin, reduces hepatic gluconeogenesis leading to reduced glucose formation, and facilitates peripheral glucose utilization by fat and muscle. When used alone, metformin does not cause hypoglycemia. It prevents endothelial dysfunction, promotes fibrinolysis, lowers lipids and regulates blood pressure.[1] Renal insufficiency, heart and hepatic failure are few contraindications to its use.

Metformin associated lactic acidosis (MALA) is rare with an incidence of 1-15 cases per 100,000.[2] Underlying diabetes mellitus is considered responsible for lactic acidosis in an acute event. Type of surgery (laparotomy, cardiac surgery, trauma), underlying hepatic dysfunction (leading to impaired lactate clearance), renal dysfunction (leading to impaired excretion), surgeries in elderly patients also contributes to lactic acidosis along with situations like sepsis, reduced peripheral oxygen delivery and congestive heart failure. All this could lead to exaggerated effects with metformin co-administration. Serum metformin levels are less than 2 μg/ml when used at therapeutic dose. Metformin levels more than 5 μg/ml is seen in lactic acidosis which could be due to impaired lactate clearance or excretion along with any of the above mentioned reasons in surgical patients. Increased metformin levels due to disturbed homeostatic mechanisms further raises serum lactate. There is an increase in less than 2 mmol/L of plasma lactate in health which gets metabolised by liver and muscles. This lactate rise is due to inhibition of respiratory chain complex 1 in mitochondria which is the mechanism by which hepatic gluconeogenesis is interfered.[3] The randomized controlled trial by Hulst et al. also highlighted that peri-operative continuation of metformin in patients with type 2 diabetes did not raise lactate levels to a clinically relevant degree.[4]

AAGBI (Association of Anaesthetists' of Great Britain and Ireland) recommends continuation of metformin on the day of surgery provided it is day care or minor surgery.[5] The subsequent doses for the day could be skipped and regular doses can be restarted once the patient resumes normal diet. In patients with normal renal function (creatinine clearance >60 ml/min), metformin could be continued on the day of surgery which might benefit the patient with its non-diabetic effects.

In elderly patients undergoing major surgeries which could involve blood loss, hypovolemic and pre-renal states, it is recommended to omit metformin. However, Nazer et al. felt that perioperative metformin should not be held responsible for lactic acidosis in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Perioperative metformin offered better glycemic control and overall reduced complications such as organ damage and wound infections.[6]

It is recommended to withhold metformin for up to 48 hrs in patients with renal impairment (creatinine clearance <60 ml/min), who will be receiving intravenous contrast for CT scans, angiograms and interventional radiological procedures. Metformin could be continued in patients with normal renal function.

Presently, the recommendations are not very clear regarding perioperative use of metformin but experts feel that the decision to continue or omit should be individualised depending on the patient and the surgery planned.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Nasri H, Rafieian-Kopaei M. Metformin: Current knowledge. J Res Med Sci 2014;19:658-64.  Back to cited text no. 1
Visconti L, Cernaro V, Ferrara D, Costantino G, Aloisi C, Amico L, et al. Metformin-related lactic acidosis: Is it a myth or an underestimated reality? Ren Fail 2016;38:1560-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Viollet B, Guigas B, Sanz Garcia N, Leclerc J, Foretz M, Andreelli F. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of metformin: An overview. Clin Sci (Lond) 2012;122:253-70.  Back to cited text no. 3
Hulst AH, Polderman JAW, Ouweneel E, Pijl AJ, Hollmann MW, De Vries JH, et al. Peri-operative continuation of metformin does not improve glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Obes Metab 2018;20:749-52.  Back to cited text no. 4
Membership of the Working Party, Barker P, Creasey PE, Dhatariya K, Levy N, Lipp A, et al. Peri-operative management of the surgical patient with diabetes 2015: Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland. Anaesthesia 2015;70:1427-40.  Back to cited text no. 5
Nazer RI, Alburikan KA. Metformin is not associated with lactic acidosis in patients with diabetes undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery: A case control study. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol 2017;18:38.  Back to cited text no. 6


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded131    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal